About half of the $28 million in Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funding will be spent directly on Baldwin County projects and the county is getting money in other projects that involve both sides of Mobile Bay.
One of the projects will bring about $4 million in improvements to Gulf State Park, another $2.5 million will help Spanish Fort develop a park on the Causeway and Daphne will get $800,000 to improve navigation in D’Olive Bay.
At Gulf State Park, a big part of that project will be redeveloping the nine-hole golf course that has been closed for more than a year. But no solid plan is in place for the land. During the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project some of the renderings had ziplines coming to the area, but officials aren’t ready to talk about specifics.
“The golf course repurposing planning is underway now and improvement in that area will commence once that planning is complete,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Commissioner Chris Blankenship said.
Other park improvements will concentrate on the Lake Shelby picnic area and dog park.
“We will be building new bathrooms at the Lake Shelby day-use area as well as reconfiguring the parking, building new picnic shelters, improving the dog park and providing kayak and boating access improvement,” Blankenship said. “We will be renovating some of the bathhouses in the campground, other bathhouses will also be renovated but with other funds.”
Spanish Fort will use $600,000 of its $2.5 million from GOMESA money to buy the land from Blankenship’s DCNR and the rest will be used to develop the land into a park. Mayor Mike McMillan said it’s part of his city’s plan to expand outdoor offerings for Spanish Fort and Baldwin County residents.
“The city of Spanish Fort appreciates the opportunity given to us and thanks the governor for her willingness to achieve this project,” McMillan said. “This will be the first step in moving our Causeway Master Plan development forward to welcome citizens to Baldwin County and to display what will showcase the greatness of our delta resources.”
In Daphne, Mayor Dane Haygood said dredging the channel in the D’Olive Bay will open up more boating access to Mobile Bay for the Eastern Shore.
“The city of Daphne has a historical identity as a waterfront community, although current waterfront access is limited,” Haygood said. “Enhancement of waterfront access for Daphne residents has been a priority of this administration. I am pleased to partner with Alabama and Gov. Ivey and to utilize GOMESA funds to make this project a reality.”
One of the biggest projects is the widely reported boat launch planned near the Foley Beach Express in Orange Beach. Baldwin County will use $7.5 million to buy and develop the 45 acres on the north bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. What that launch will look like and how many launches and parking spaces will be built hasn’t been decided, although the County Commission was expected to consider a $400,000 budget transfer for design services this week. Much of that will depend on what the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard will allow in their permitting, officials said.
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